Ground was recently broken at a new facility in North Salt Lake, Utah which will be converting food waste to energy. Roughly a third of all food produced annually is thrown away or wasted every year, and most of it usually just ends up in landfills. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says around 1.3 billion tons of food is landfilled a year, meaning there is a large untapped reservoir of potential energy sitting around in landfills.
“We don’t really see that. We handle our waste kind of secretly — it goes out the back door. But we needed a place for that stuff to go,” said president of ALPRO Energy and Water, Bruce Alder.
ALPRO Energy and Water is partnering with South Davis Sewer District to build the first anaerobic digester in Utah’s history.
“Everywhere we looked, we found more waste. There is a real need to divert and process these organic wastes that are now being thrown away and put in a landfill, to a better and more sustainable use,” Alder said.
The Wasatch Resource Recovery facility will convert organic material such as food and beverage waste into renewable natural gas, via the biological process of anaerobic digestion. Once the facility becomes operational in 2018 it will divert around 360 tons of solid waste from landfills a day.
“Our available land is too scarce and too beneficial to other uses to be used to store and bury waste and organic material,” said Alder.
The digester will break down the disposed food and converts the methane into natural gas, which will then run down a pipeline.
“We can do all the stuff that a typical composter can’t do, like the meat, bones, dairy, oil, sugar. We can take all of that,” said sustainability manager for Wasatch Resource Recovery, Morgan Bowerman.
According to Bowerman, multiple businesses and restaurants have already signed contracts to ship their food waste to the resource recovery facility. The multiple businesses will be able to pay a third of the cost of landfill fees to send the large quantities of food waste to the digester, giving them an incentive to participate in the program.